How To Help A Friend Going Through Depression

If your bestie's going through a hard time, it's important to know how to help.

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Depression is a very serious condition and is probably one of the  hardest things someone will have to deal with in their life. So, when one of your nearest and dearest is going through it it’s hard to know how to help rather than hinder.

Your support and encouragement could play a huge role in their recovery. But acting as a support system for someone going through a hard time can be both confusing and frustrating.

We sought the expert advice of Clinical Nurse Manager with St.Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Carina O’Brien.

1) Communication

Communication is one of the most vital yet underrated ways of helping with depression. Make a huge effort to talk with your friend on a daily basis, even if its about something trivial or unimportant; anything is helpful. “Talk to your friend, gently voice your concerns and offer your willingness to be there for them. Listening is key – You will not be able to ‘fix your friend,'” Carina warns. “It is more about being there to listen to them, support them and giving them space to talk about the issue. Keep regular contact with them and check in with them via text, call or email,” she suggests.

2) Encourage

You don’t want to bombard your friend with advice about what she should do, because chances are she’s feeling so low an influx of advice will stress her out even more. “Gently encourage them to seek professional help from a GP. Offer to attend appointments with them if it makes it easier. Don’t judge or criticise if they refuse to at first. Seeking help can be very daunting for an individual. Be persistent, yet patient,” says Carina.

3) Activities

One of the most helpful things you can do for a friend going through depression is to get them up and about. “Encourage activity. Suggest going for a short walk or doing some form of exercise together. Alternatively arrange to go to the cinema or out for dinner,” Carina recommends.

4) Look after yourself

It’s easy to get caught up looking after someone else but it’s important not to forget to look after yourself. Dealing with someone else’s problems all the time can have a bad effect on your own mental health so it’s important to step away from the situation and look after yourself as well. “Supporting a friend with depression can be frustrating at times so look after yourself” says Carina. After all, you can’t look out for someone else if you don’t take care of yourself first.

If you or someone you know is suffering with depression, it’s important to know that help is out there:

Walk in My Shoes Helpline for 18-25 year olds

The Walk in My Shoes Helpline for 18-25 year olds is a confidential telephone and email service staffed by experienced mental health nurses Monday to Friday with late evening Monday, Tuesday and Thursday until 9pm and an answering and call-back facility outside hours. You can contact the Walk in My Shoes Helpline service by calling 01 249 3555, or email help@walkinmyshoes.ie

 Mental Health Support & Information Service

The Support & Information Service is a confidential telephone and email service staffed by experienced mental health nurses 9-5 Monday to Friday with an answering and call-back facility outside hours. You can contact the Support & Information Service by calling 01 249 3333, or email info@stpatsmail.com

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